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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

FIFA to finance repairs of Gaza soccer field damaged by IAF

On Friday, I reported that FIFA - world soccer's governing body - was considering sanctioning Israel due to an IDF bombing raid of Gaza's main soccer stadium while the stadium was empty. Now HaAretz is reporting that FIFA is planning to finance repairs to the stadium. Is that going to be the end of the story?

FIFA said it would evaluate the extent of the damage done to the open-air stadium and its stands, with the help of the Palestinian FA, over the next few days. Much of the repair cost will depend on the extent of the damage to the stadium's drainage system.

"FIFA's role is not to reprimand, but to help create bonds and ensure that the young people of the region have hope and the possibility to enjoy the school of life that football represents. Therefore, I call on the relevant authorities to do everything they can to allow Palestinian and Israeli football to develop," Blatter said. [In this regard, you may wish to look once again at the last time Israelis and 'Palestinians' played soccer together. CiJ]

FIFA stressed that it supported Palestinian and Israeli football equally.

While UEFA [the European governing body CiJ] banned Israeli clubs and the national team from playing international competitions at home between October 2001 and April 2004 because of a series of terrorist attacks, FIFA ensured that Tel Aviv hosted the Israeli national team's qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup.

FIFA decided to pay for repairs on the stadium after establishing that the direct strike was "without any reason" and that the soccer field was not being used by Palestinians as a missile launching pad.

No casualties were reported in the April 1 air strike, which reportedly left a large crater in the field.

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